Micro-environmental control of cell migration--myosin IIA is required for efficient migration in fibrillar environments through control of cell adhesion dynamics

J Cell Sci. 2012 May 1;125(Pt 9):2244-56. doi: 10.1242/jcs.098806. Epub 2012 Feb 10.


Recent evidence suggests that organization of the extracellular matrix (ECM) into aligned fibrils or fibril-like ECM topographies promotes rapid migration in fibroblasts. However, the mechanisms of cell migration that are altered by these changes in micro-environmental topography remain unknown. Here, using 1D fibrillar migration as a model system for oriented fibrillar 3D matrices, we find that fibroblast leading-edge dynamics are enhanced by 1D fibrillar micropatterns and demonstrate a dependence on the spatial positioning of cell adhesions. Although 1D, 2D and 3D matrix adhesions have similar assembly kinetics, both 1D and 3D adhesions are stabilized for prolonged periods, whereas both paxillin and vinculin show slower turnover rates in 1D adhesions. Moreover, actin in 1D adhesions undergoes slower retrograde flow than the actin that is present in 2D lamellipodia. These data suggest an increase in mechanical coupling between adhesions and protrusive machinery. Experimental reduction of contractility resulted in the loss of 1D adhesion structure and stability, with scattered small and unstable adhesions, and an uncoupling of adhesion protein-integrin stability. Genetic ablation of myosin IIA (MIIA) or myosin IIB (MIIB) isoforms revealed that MIIA is required for efficient migration in restricted environments as well as adhesion maturation, whereas MIIB helps to stabilize adhesions beneath the cell body. These data suggest that restricted cell environments, such as 1D patterns, require cellular contraction through MIIA to enhance adhesion stability and coupling to integrins behind the leading edge. This increase in mechanical coupling allows for greater leading-edge protrusion and rapid cell migration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Cellular Microenvironment / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / physiology*
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Integrins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Nonmuscle Myosin Type IIA / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Nonmuscle Myosin Type IIA / genetics
  • Nonmuscle Myosin Type IIB / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Nonmuscle Myosin Type IIB / genetics
  • Paxillin / metabolism
  • Plasmids
  • Pseudopodia / physiology*
  • Transfection
  • Vinculin / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Integrins
  • Paxillin
  • Pxn protein, mouse
  • Vinculin
  • Nonmuscle Myosin Type IIA
  • Nonmuscle Myosin Type IIB